The Democratic Party wants to make a HUGE story out of the resignation of Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer. A DNC release is headlined: "Tea Party Movement Deposes FL GOP Chair, Steele Ally in "Civil War." The idea, of course, is to play up divisions within the Republican Party. And there are plenty of divisions, as Greer himself noted on a conference call today.
"I cannot be a participant in the shredding and tearing in the fabric of the Republican Party," said Greer, blaming his conservative critics for their plan to stage a divisive fight over his post at a party meeting Saturday. His critics were willing to "burn the house down and try to destroy the Republican Party," Greer said.
That's his story. But the reason why Jim Greer is stepping down has more to do with Florida politics than it does with the Tea Party movement. Put quite simply, thanks to conservative activists who've long been anxious about Gov. and now Senate candidate Charlie Crist's conservatism, the Senate race has a primary. Greer has made no bones about his attachment to Crist; the future trajectories of the two men were joined like the helices of DNA. Further, Greer has long been under scrutiny for his stewardship of the party's finances. And he has soiled relationships with powerful county chairs. It's easy to characterize all conservatives in Florida as Tea Partiers, a phrase that carries negative connotations when Democrats use it, but it is hard to lump Marco Rubio, a talented, qualified, politico, in with the...shall we say less granulated folks who've organized the Tea Party movement.
The truth is that the Tea Party movement makes a lot of noise, and it's been able to organize rallies. It has some grasstops support (the Dick Armey directorate) and the conservative talk radio kindlers to keep it alive. It overlaps with, but it not the same thing as, emboldened conservative Republican activists. And Jim Greer cannot be said to be their victim.